How to Build a Loft Bed Part 2 of 2

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If you had—or wanted—a loft bed back in college or in your first apartment, then this is a project you’re going to like. But your kids will probably like it more because it’s cool, fun, and their friends probably won’t have one.


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If you had—or wanted—a loft bed back in college or in your first apartment, then this is a project you’re going to like. But your kids will probably like it more because it’s cool, fun, and their friends probably won’t have one.
This loft bed is designed to open up floor space usually consumed by a bed. It also provides a location underneath it for a kid or kids to play, do activities or set up a desk. And, it because it ties in with the wall,
it can work for kids of all ages.
Because you can tie into the wall, this loft bed probably has a little more oomph than the one you might have built with your old roommate. And, a built-in safety rail adds an extra layer of protection for younger kids. While you can make the bed to your own specifications following the techniques below, the bed design here is based on a twin-sized mattress, which is 39" x 75".
The outside dimensions of the bed frame are 48 3/4" x 80", which allows room up top for books, a drink, and a little extra room for the bedding to drape when the bed is made. Your little princess or prince will love climbing the ladder to get in bed.
Safety Note: Never attach hooks or handles to the loft bed and do not hang items from it, including rope and belts. Children can catch themselves on these items when playing or in the event that an accidental fall occurs.
From: Complete Guide to Custom Shelves & Built-Ins, 978-1-58923-303-4

What You'll Need


Miter saw
Table saw
Circular saw
Stud finder
Tape measure
Nail set
Pneumatic nailer/compressor
Router and bits
Carpenter’s square
Shooting board or straightedge


(2) 3/4" x 4 x 8 ft. maple plywood
(6) 1 x 2 x 8 ft. maple
(4) 1 x 6 x 8 ft. maple
(3) 2 x 2 x 8 ft. pine
Brass screws with grommet washers
Deck screws
Trim head wood screws
Finishing materials

Cutting List

Box front
3⁄4 x 8 x 80"
Maple plywood

Box end–left
3⁄4 x 8 x 48"
Maple plywood

Box back
3⁄4 x 5 3⁄4 x 78 1⁄2"
Maple plywood

Box end–right
3⁄4 x 5 3⁄4 x 48
Maple plywood

Box bottom
3⁄4 x 48 x 80"
Maple plywood

Box/rail cap–front
3⁄4 x 1 1⁄2 x 80"
1 x 2 maple

Box cap–end
3⁄4 x 1 1⁄2 x 48"
1 x 2 maple

Box cap–back
3⁄4 x 1 1⁄2 x 78 1⁄2
1 x 2 maple

Rail cap–end
3⁄4 x 1 1⁄2 x 30 1⁄4
1 x 2 maple

Rail post
3⁄4 x 1 1⁄2 x 4
1 x 2 maple

Ladder leg–short
3⁄4 x 5 1⁄2 x 59 1⁄2"
1 x 6 maple

Ladder leg–long
3⁄4 x 5 1⁄2 x 79 1⁄4"
1 x 6 maple

Ladder rung
3⁄4 x 1 1⁄2 x 24
1 x 2 maple

Ladder filler
3⁄4 x 5 1⁄2 x 6 1⁄2"
1 x 6 maple

Ladder filler
3⁄4 x 5 1⁄2 x 10 1⁄2"
1 x 6 maple

Ladder filler
3⁄4 x 5 1⁄2 x 3 1⁄2
1 x 6 maple

1 1⁄2 x 1 1⁄2 x 79 1⁄4
2 x 2 maple (or pine)

1 1⁄2 x 1 1⁄2 x 45
2 x 2 maple (or pine)


Step 1

Make the Ladder - Step 1

The ladder/post is made from built-up 1 x 6 maple boards. The rungs are 1 x 2 maple boards with bull-nosed edges. To simplify the machining, cut the bullnoses by profiling all four edges of your 8-ft. 1 x 2 stock on a router table fitted with a 3/8" roundover bit. The rungs should have a more pronounced bullnose than the top of the 1 x 2 box caps. Then cut the rungs to length with a miter saw or power miter saw (a stop block is a good idea for ensuring uniform lengths).

Step 2

Make the Ladder - Step 2

Cut the ladder legs and ladder blocks to length from 1 x 6 maple stock. Arrange the shorter legs on a flat surface with the outside edges 24" apart and the end flush. Make sure legs stay parallel at all times. Install the 6 1/2" blocks first flush with the top ends of the legs. Use glue and a couple of finish nails or pneumatic nails to secure the blocks. Then begin working downward, adding rungs and blocks.

Step 3

Make the Ladder - Step 3

Fasten the longer legs over the assembly, sandwiching the blocks and rung ends between 1 x 6 legs. The extra 15" of length should be at the top of the longer legs.

Step 4

Install the Loft Bed - Step 1

Before installing the loft bed, apply your finish of choice (a few coats of durable polyurethane varnish is a good option). Pre-assemble the long side cleat and short side cleat into an L-shape, using glue and 3" deck screws. Attach the cleat to the wall at the mattress box layout lines. Apply panel adhesive to the back faces of the cleats before installing. Attach with 3/8 x 3 1/2" countersunk lag screws with washer at each stud location.

Step 5

Install the Loft Bed - Step 2

Clamp a long 2 x 4 to the front face of the mattress box so the 2 x 4 will support the front at roughly the correct height when it is installed. With a couple of helpers (or more), raise the box and rest the back and right end on the walls cleats, making sure the box is square to the corners and flush against the walls. Place a level on the box and adjust the clamp and 2 x 4 brace so the box is level.
Once the mattress box is level, face-nail through the front and left ends of the box and into the wall cleats to hold the bed in place. After the ladder is secured and attached to the bed it will be safe enough to go topside and drive some nails through the box bottom and into the wall cleats.

Step 6

Install the Ladder - Step 1

Position the ladder under the mattress support box. Make sure that the right side of the ladder is flush with the long, outside edge of the mattress support box. Plumb it and fasten using glue and screws. The short legs of the ladder create a ledge to help support the free end of the box.
Drive 3 1/2" brass screws with grommet washers through the ladder leg and upper ladder block at 8" intervals to secure the ladder (which functions as a post) to the mattress box. Locate the screws so they hit the 2 x 2 cleat at the bottom, inside edge of the box. Also drive a few countersunk 2" screws down through the plywood box bottom and into the top ends of the short legs.

Step 7

Install the Ladder - Step 2

Double-check the ladder to make sure it is plumb and then screw the sixth ladder rung to the floor, directly behind the bottom of the ladder, laying flat. The ends of the rungs should be flush with the outside faces of the ladder legs. Drive screws or nails through the rungs and into the bottoms of the legs to prevent the ladder from moving. Also attach the top ends of the long ladder legs to the top railing caps with trim-head screws. Drive a few extra nails through the box bottom and into the cleats, remove the temporary 2 x 4 brace, and add your mattress.



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